By Carol Tannenhauser
It had the feel of a party, and everyone looked great. The mood was buoyant; people greeted each other warmly; cries of “Hi, haven’t seen you in ages” floated above the crowd. The man of the hour arrived in a golf cart. The mayor was five minutes late.
It was the groundbreaking ceremony for the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, held on Wednesday morning in a large tent overlooking the site where the Center will rise—on the Columbus Avenue side of the American Museum of Natural History.
In attendance were trustees of the Museum, donors to the Gilder Center, major patrons, elected officials, representatives of the community, and a class of first graders from a local public school, dressed as ladybugs, bees, and butterflies. The weather was glorious. The speeches were uplifting.
“This museum is quintessentially New York,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Extraordinary things happen here. The Gilder Center will be a place where a whole new generation learns a devotion to science. Sparks will fly and young people will become devoted to the work of preserving our planet and protecting us all.”
Jeanne Gang, architect of the 230,000-square-foot addition to the museum, said, “Our driving inspiration was to make a place that not only works for your understanding of science and your brain, but also for your heart and love of beautiful spaces. When you get inside, it will be a place that makes you want to explore and discover science.”
Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, said: “The place for science and education is right here on the west side of Manhattan. This center will raise the already awesome work of the Museum to a new level.”
“Here we go, bravo, and thank you,” Museum President Ellen Futter concluded.